The Tennis Ball

(First published on June 1, 2009)

Some time in the mid-nineties I read an article about detecting something invisible by the behavior it creates between two other bodies. I loved the illustration and even used it to describe the relationship between two people, with very interesting results:

Imagine you are on the moon, having a large telescope just powerful enough to let you see two people playing tennis on Earth but not the ball bouncing between them. From the moon, the two players appear only as dots, but by the movement of these two little dots you can determine that there is a relationship between them, and that relationship is the invisible dot of the tennis ball.

You think you can use that explanation to answer the question, “Ano ba talaga tayo?” (What are we, really?).

I don’t remember exactly, but I think that article was about bosons or some elementary particles that are so small they can’t be seen even by today’s most powerful microscopes. Let’s set aside the technicalities for now because what’s important is that when something is invisible, you can only “see” it by the relationship it creates between two beings. I think that’s how invisible things can be seen: love, friendship, even God.

Please allow me to share with you my favorite line from Before Sunrise:

CELINE: I believe if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt.

Now to those of you who attribute to mere chance alone those rare personal moments of Grace, I respect your views especially if you are indeed truth seekers. I only hope that you don’t fall into the same trap as the fundamentalists you so gladly mock: smugly holding on to a belief and no longer questioning it. You may think that you already have arrived into a conclusion that there is no God, but as men who claim to uphold the scientific method, you of all people should know that we are on a continuous intellectual journey and what we hold true today should be perpetually tested.

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Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues


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